New Delhi: The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan wants to further elevate its ties with India from the Strategic Partnership the two countries share now and also take bilateral trade to $1 billion within two years, senior Uzbek officials said on Tuesday.
Briefing the media here ahead of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's arrival here early next week in what will be his first official visit to India, Uzbek Ambassador to India Farhod Arziev said India and Uzbekistan are politically very close at the highest level.
"We have a Strategic Partnership in place already," he said. "We want to elevate this to a new level."
India and Uzbekistan signed the agreement on Strategic Partnership during then Uzbek President Islam Karimov's visit to India in 2011.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mirziyoyev met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Qingdao, China, in June this year.
The two leaders had also met at last year's SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, when India was made full member of the Eurasian inter-governmental organisation.
Arziev said that during the upcoming visit of Mirziyoyev, a meeting of the Uzbek-Indian Business Forum will also be held.
"We are having B2B interactions and we are trying to conclude a preferential trade regime," he said.
Ilhomjom Nematov, Ambassador of Special Assignments and Special Envoy of the President of Uzbekistan, who was also present, said that both countries are trying to take bilateral trade from the current level of around $350 million to $1 billion by 2020.
Pharmaceuticals, agriculture, IT and tourism are among the major areas of bilateral trade between India and Uzbekistan.
Arziev said that the two countries are working on more transport corridors to boost trade after India joined the Ashgabat Agreement, which seeks to establish an international transport and transit corridor between Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, earlier this year.
Stating that Afghanistan is very important country for both Uzbekistan and India in terms of economy and security, Nematov said that one very important point is a joint effort to bring peace in the strife-torn South Asian nation.
With Uzbekistan having pledged to part-fund the construction of a 657-km railway from Mazar-i-Sharif to Herat in Afghanistan, Nematov said that Tashkent will be happy to have India as a partner in its construction.
India is a leading development aid partner of Afghanistan.
Reiterating a mutually beneficial relationship of bilateral cooperation, Nematov stated that India is one of Uzbekistan's key partners not only in Asia but globally as well.
Elaborating further on this, he highlighted the shared goal to fight terrorism and other regional challenges, in order to sustain regional stability in Central Asia.
Sharing a brief outlook of the upcoming visit of President Mirziyoyev, Ambassador Arziev stated that close to 30 official documents of bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during this visit.
These agreements will range from political and economic partnerships to educational and humanitarian exchanges.
Arziev also announced future partnerships between the cities of Delhi and Tashkent, Bukhara and Hyderabad, the Uzbek province of Andijan and India's Gujarat state as well as twinning of the historic cities of Samarkand and Agra.
"Through these partnerships, both nations hope to establish a multi-sectoral regional connection which will further enable trade and business ties," he said.